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Desktop Publisher

Career Information


Desktop Publisher

A desktop publisher at work on her computer.

Elena Elisseeva / 123RF

Job Description

A desktop publisher uses computer software to produce publication-ready material including brochures, financial reports, business proposals, menus, books, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, packaging, tickets and business cards. They format and combine text, numerical data, photographs, illustrations, charts and other visual graphic elements.

Employment Facts

There were about 16,000 people employed as desktop publishers in 2012. Most work in the publishing and printing industries. Others have jobs in in-house printing departments of advertising and public relations firms. Hours are typically full-time and overtime is often required to meet deadlines.

Educational Requirements

One doesn't need a college degree to work as a desktop publisher—many skills are learned on-the-job—but those with either an associate degree or certificate are afforded the best job opportunities. Individuals need strong computer skills, specifically proficiency with desktop publishing software such as InDesign, PageMaker, Illustrator and Photoshop. Some employers prefer to hire those who have a bachelor's degree in graphic design or graphic arts.

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Other Requirements

In addition to technical skills one needs certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to succeed in this occupation. A desktop publisher, first of all, needs artistic aptitude. He or she needs strong critical thinking skills in order to weigh the pros and cons of alternative solutions to problems. Active listening and good speaking skills will allow a desktop publisher to receive information from and convey it to colleagues and clients. One must be detail-oriented, well organized, and have good time management skills.

Advancement Opportunities

Workers with limited training and experience may start as helpers receiving instruction from experienced desktop publishers. As one masters more skills, keeps up with new software and gains experience, he or she can advance to positions with greater responsibility. This can include supervisory or management positions. Some desktop publishers may start their own companies or work as independent consultants. Those who are more artistic and who have furthered their education may find opportunities in graphic design or commercial art.

Why Do You Need to Know About Advancement?

Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a decline in employment of desktop publishers through 2022. A college degree or experience will increase one's chances of finding a job.

Why Do You Need to Know About Job Outlook?


Desktop Publishers earned a median annual salary of $37,040 and median hourly earnings of $17.81 in 2012 (US).

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much desktop publishers currently earn in your city.

A Day in a Desktop Publisher's Life:

These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for desktop publisher positions found on Indeed.com:

  • Create and format placemats, flyers and newsletters/brochures using both company templates and custom designed PowerPoint layouts and Word templates to meet requirements.
  • Import and format copy and graphics into existing design templates.
  • Complete all document creation and modifications accurately and within the expected timelines.
  • Design graphics for traditional and online advertising, social media, promotions, etc.
  • Review own work carefully before submitting to editors.
  • Troubleshoot and problem-solve document or file issues such as fonts, artwork or other depictions, graphs, tables, etc., and determine best course of action.
  • Utilize a variety of software programs to produce project.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Desktop Publishers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/desktop-publishers.htm (visited February 26, 2014).
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Desktop Publishers, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/43-9031.00 (visited February 26, 2014).

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